Oregon grape is an evergreen, flowering shrub that is most significant for the herbal and healing properties of its roots. Many tend to assume it to be related to the true grape but it is not so. The plant happens to have acquired its name from the purple cluster of berry-like fruits that somewhat look like grapes.
Oregon grape root is used as the nearest and most effective substitute for goldenseal.
Oregon grape is related to barberry.
Mahonia aquifolium is the scientific name of the Oregon grape.
Oregon Grape Description
Oregon Grape is actually a shrub; the fruits of the plant also go by the same name.
Size: The plant is approximately around 1-5 meters when fully grown.
Leaves: The leaves have a leathery texture and bear a close resemblance to holly. These leaves are significant for its capacity to resist wilting.
Flowers: Its pretty flowers are yellow in color.
Fruit: The fruit is berry-like and is purplish black in color. It has a large seed and is significant for a tart flavor.
Oregon grape is a plant that is mostly found on the North American west coast ranging from British Columbia to northern California. This plant prefers Douglas fir forests and brushland habitats.
Oregon Grape Cultivation
The Oregon grape is one such plant that requires low maintenance. This plant tends to thrive even during summer droughts; it is also tolerant to poor soils.
Oregon Grape Uses
The purplish black fruits are common in the traditional diets of the aboriginal population of the Pacific Northwest. It is often served mixed with other sweeter fruits such a salal.
The Oregon grape fruits are also used to make jelly.
The juice extracted from these fruits can be fermented and used in the preparation of wine although it requires a large amount of sugar.
A yellow dye is extracted out of the inner bark of the roots and larger stems of the Oregon grape.
The Oregon grape berries yield a purple dye.
The green, non-wilting and holly-like leaves of the Oregon grape have made this plant foliage popular among florists.
It is basically the root of the plant that is laden with medicinal properties. There are a number of topical creams containing a certain amount of tincture of the Oregon grape root. It is also available as tea, tincture or in capsule form.
The Oregon grape root has been used as an age old medicinal herb to stop and cure diarrhea. It has been found that the herb has properties that not only slow the passage of stool running through the intestine but it also prevents bacteria in the lining.
Apart from this, the root herb is also used to treat ocular trachoma and intestinal parasites.
The plant root is also known to be used by Plateau Indian tribes for the treatment of dyspepsia.
Oregon grape root is considered to be an effective alternative of the goldenseal herb. The latter is known to be more threatened. Both these plants have the alkaloid berberine responsible for anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
However, Oregon grape root is preferred more over a berberine concentrate because the former contains tannins that tend to cross link proteins found in the linings of the digestive tract as well as the nose and throat; thereby forming a protective covering or seal against germs and infections.
The same tannins present in the Oregon grape root also help in the treatment of a condition known as psoriasis that is characterized by extra rapid cell multiplication in the skin.
Creams with Oregon grape root constituents are known to provide ease from skin irritation, inflammation and itching.
Oregon Grape Root Storage
It is recommended to keep dried Oregon grape root away from direct light and heat. This herb expires after a period of one year. However, the tincture can used for several years provided it is stored in a place that is away from light and heat.
Oregon Grape Interesting Facts
Let us take a look at some facts about the Oregon grape.
- Oregon grape is the state flower of Oregon.
- This plant is also referred to as Mahonia.
- The un-hyphenated term Oregon grape is often confused with the true grape. As such certain writers prefer using the term ‘Oregon-grape-holly’ to avoid the confusion.
- Its botanic name aquifolium indicates that the leaves of this plant are holly-like. It is derived from the Roman word aquifolium which means ‘prickly leaved’.
Oregon Grape Side Effects
It is not unusual for some people to experience a sense of nausea that is caused by the bitterness of the herbal plant root. However, one will get used to it after taking several doses.
It is advised not to take Oregon grape root in the scenario of chronic diarrhea, excessive stomach acid or duodenal ulcer as its consumption could worsen the scenario.
Pregnant women are not recommended to take Oregon grape root, without consulting a doctor or a physician.
Oregon grape Pictures
Here are some images of Oregon grape.